Amsterdam's 16 Most Beautiful Bars
Over the past decade, Amsterdam has finally started playing with the big boys on the food and drink scene (check out our latest new openings round-up if you have any doubts). This means more openings, more competition, and better quality all around. Nowhere else is this quality more noticeable than in our beautiful bar scene. With plenty of glass, greenery, and interior bling, here are 16 Mokum spots to drink in scenic splendor, no beer goggles needed.
This is what everyone should expect from a hotel bar: a modern, cozy interior, stunning views, and attentive service... with slightly elevated prices that you don’t feel too bad paying, everything else considered. There’s a terrace for warmer weather (not to mention a heated pool on the roof), and a central fireplace next to the bar for chillier evenings. Naming this one of our top date spots was a no-brainer.
The green and brown decor of this Reguliersdwars staple -- designed by Thijs Murré -- is admirably chic, with bold but natural colors and surprisingly pleasing details, like a giant snake skeleton dominating the bar area. In the summer, there’s a terrace to match. The locally sourced and seasonally focused French-led menu is usually good, though not always consistent. But like that pretty girl you wished would let you sit next to her in your high school cafeteria, you’ll forgive Ms. Noir for just about anything because, damn, is she fine.
Everything feels lighter the moment you pass through the dramatic art deco facade of this former film palace and into the bright-white cement cloud that is CT. Plants float on strings over the soft grey and taupe shadows of the vast wood-and-brick-textured space. The all-day kitchen comes up with eclectic numbers like venison with parsnip puree, a touch of white chocolate, red cabbage marmalade, and blood sausage, as well as a full menu of juices, wines, beers, teas, and (of course) plenty of coffee.
Tucked within the busiest block of the Ten Katemarkt, where you’ll find the Kanen bij Ten Kate food truck gathering every Thursday during the summer, it can be difficult to find the right entrance into Café Panache. The space is actually divided into a separate restaurant and bar. The smaller bar is luxe-looking, but we’re going to recommend you sidle up for a drink at the central bar of the larger restaurant area. There you'll fully enjoy the richly transformed industrial interior’s plants, wood, and leather textures, and birdcage lamps supplying pops of color. It's also where you can snag some food to go with your pitcher of the cocktail of your choice. (Yes, cocktails BY THE PITCHER.)
You’re paying for the view here with patience and pricy cocktails, so enjoy the eye candy. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out over the heart of the city and its watery surroundings for one of the most dramatic views of Amsterdam that you can enjoy with a boozy beverage. And that view only gets better when the weather cooperates, out on the massive terrace.
Popular with boaters who want to take a field trip to Amsterdam’s more Eastern aquatic havens, the massive Harbour Club (now the scion of a whole chain of spin-offs) has plenty of room inside and out. Inside, the decor varies by room, from red-backed pop art, to soothing layers of brick and brown leather. Outside, on the South Beach-style terrace, the view opens out on the water, boats, and modern Dutch architecture of the Eastern Docklands. Posh as it looks, the menu of seafood and steak isn't as expensive as one might expect... although there are plenty of big-ticket bottles, if that's more your style.
Dutch design house Moooi, led by famous designer Marcel Wanders, takes its name from the Dutch word for beautiful -- with one extra "o" -- and delivers on its promise. This whimsically detailed bar, located in the Andaz Hotel, boasts patterned velvet and decadent chandeliers as blue and shiny as its name would have you believe. The experience is best taken in with a bottle of bubbly.
It doesn’t matter whether you take your drinks in the lively Tunes Bar or the quieter (but arguably more stunning) Brasserie & Lounge. You’ll be imbibing with a side of “holy crap everything in here looks frickin’ amazing.” We suggest enjoying a drink in each, warming up in the light, airy Lounge before delving into the darker environs of Tunes’ shiny, elaborately shelved underworld vibe.
One of the few Eastern hotspots not part of the 3WO family, Walter’s was an early adaptor to Javastraat's gentrification efforts. Today, it still draws crowds with its lively scene, decent-enough food, and (especially) some cozy, tropical-lite indoor scenery. (Fun fact: the place is named after a photographer who became famous for his shots of Java, an island in Indonesia.)
Given its location in the art’otel, you know this bar is going to be beautiful. It actually covers a range of spaces, including a lounge and library, for cocktails and bites. The dark, dramatic decor, accented with lime-green, is full of cushy seating you'll want to sink into for at least one too many G&Ts while you ponder the abstractly sexual grotesques adorning the wall and table lamp.
Some things should be black and white, and the pleasingly graphic yet delicate interior of this hotel bar and restaurant is one of them. No matter how gloomy the Amsterdam weather is outside, here, you'll sit in a bright box that'll keep your eyes as busy as your taste buds.
Named one of the world’s top 10 train station restaurants and bars by The Guardian for its looks alone -- okay, also for its affordable menu and beer selection -- “First Class” has been faithfully restored to the 19th century lounge that once occupied this space. The many mini-arches of the impossibly tall ceiling are the real show-stopper, but the space between is well-used, too, with pattern-carved wood panels, foliage-filled murals, and elongated yet simple lighting suggestive of Art Deco.
Another product of Thijs Murré (remember Lion Noir?), BoCinq’s bar decor definitely outshines the restaurant with which it shares its name and space. From the spotlighted brick corridor housing the bar, to the quirky, oversized chairs of the lounge areas, the look and atmosphere of the space still draws crowds despite the cocktail game not being as strong as at some other bars.
The glitzy haute-Deco of the ‘20s roars to life in this generally packed bar, where the post-dinner clientele also screams 20s. There’s a wraparound terrace partially facing the water (popular with smokers as well as lunchers), but the real views are inside. Inspired by Art Deco painter and international icon Tamara de Lempicka, bursts of yellow light back the bar, highlighting a show-stopping stained-glass mural.
The lovelier, more accessible sister of Jimmy Woo (located right across the alley) is stylish from every angle, with brocaded walls in blood-red, studded with black-fringed lamps. You’ll enjoy it most, however, if you can land one of the tables in the back, away from the crowded bar, with views of the plant-filled glass wall. Don't try to Instagram it, though. Cell reception is crap.
More than just snobby sushi, the chalk-white bar is probably the best spot in the ‘hood to sidle up for a coffee or cheeky afternoon cocktail. By evening, things get a little more... crazy. However, open views of the clean white lines and minimalist Asian accents are replaced by some equally pleasing Amsterdam eye candy.